Marilyn McCoo is best known for being the lead female vocalist in the group The 5th Dimension, as well as hosting the 1980s music countdown series Solid Gold. She is the wife of singer Billy Davis, Jr., the founder and co-member of The 5th Dimension, whom she married in 1969.
McCoo was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. both her parents were doctors. When Marilyn was seven, her family moved to Los Angeles, where she took singing, piano and dance lessons. At the age of 15, she joined Art Linkletter's Talent Show and began modelling.
In 1962, McCoo won the Miss Bronze California beauty pageant. At this event, she met Lamonte McLemore, a part-time vocalist and photographer for Jet magazine. Her photos, taken by McLemore, were featured in the magazine's "Jet Beauty of the Week section."
In the early and mid-1960s, McCoo was a member of the Hi-Fi's, who often opened for Ray Charles. She had been invited to join the group by photographer McLemore, who would himself join McCoo in The 5th Dimension. Other Hi-Fi members included Harry Elston and Floyd Butler, who would go on to form The Friends of Distinction.
She met future husband Billy Davis, Jr. in 1966 with The 5th Dimension - then called The Versatiles - which also included Ron Townson and Florence LaRue; who, coincidentally won the Miss Bronze California title one year after Marilyn.
The group's first big hit was with 1967's "Up, Up and Away," written by Jimmy Webb. The song won four 1968 Grammy Awards and was the title track to 5th Dimension's first hit LP. Their follow-up was a cover of Laura Nyro's "Stoned Soul Picnic." "Wedding Bell Blues," featuring McCoo's most prominent vocal of that period, and a medley of "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" (from the musical Hair) both reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1969 with "Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In" winning the Grammy for "Record of the Year."
By the early 1970s, McCoo began to sing lead on the group's remaining chart-topping singles, "One Less Bell to Answer," "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep At All" and "If I Could Reach You."
In 1975, McCoo and Davis left The 5th Dimension and began performing as a duo, and recorded their 1976 debut album, I Hope We Get to Love in Time. The first single was the title track, which was a mid-chart hit. Their follow up, "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)" was an even bigger hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1977.
McCoo and Davis were awarded a gold single and a gold album as well as a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. They also hosted their own television program, "The Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr Show," in Summer 1977.
After one more album on ABC in 1978, the pair signed with CBS Records the following year and released their last album as a duo until October 2008 when the pair released The Many Faces of Love, a collection of hit songs from the 1960s and 1970s.